In the summer months you hear a lot about it, because they are related to healthy tanning . But at no point in the year should we overlook carotenoids , or those vegetable pigments with important nutritional functions. Precursors of Vitamin A, they are subdivided into beta-carotene (very well known) and alpha-carotene, less known because it generates more difficultly the vitamin, but definitely more effective from the antioxidant point of view. A true elixir of long life. And where is this alpha carotene? The name itself says: in carrots.


Carrots for a feast of antioxidants

Making carrots is a panacea for the body. The alpha-carotene contained in them in abundance is in fact a very powerful antioxidant, so much so that some studies correlate it to cancer care and the lower risk of mortality due to cardiovascular problems. The antioxidant action is effective on many aspects, because it fights free radicals , harmful molecules that are formed in the body with aging. But also due to external agents such as stress, smoking, excessive exposure to the sun, chemical additives, pollution.

But how can we consume carrots to stock up on alpha-carotene (but also beta-carotene and lycopene)? Surely, munching them raw . Cooking greatly reduces the beneficial substances. As a pinzimonio, in salad. Grate inside fresh vegetable wrappers, or put in white yogurt. In this way you will also make a good feast of fiber. Alternatively, centrifuge the juice: in this way you consume even 4 or 5 carrots at once, perhaps with a drop of lemon juice to increase the vitamin C, another important and abundant component. However, consider that the carotenoids are contained in many other vegetables, very easy to recognize: it is all orange, yellow and red fruit and vegetables. So the melon, peaches, peppers, apricots. While in the winter months pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mandarin. In addition, carrot oil is also rich in beneficial substances.

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Natural carotenoids

More than 600 different carotenoids are known to exist in nature.

40 are regularly consumed in the diet and 6 can be routinely measured in the blood.

Palm fruit carotenes (500 – 700 mg/kg red palm oil) comprise mainly of alpha and beta carotenes (98%), with minute quantities of other carotenoids such as lycopene and gamma-carotene (2%).

Of the vegetable oils that are widely consumed, palm oil contains the highest known concentration beta-carotene, along with other natural carotenes. Red Palm Fruit is the world’s richest natural plant source of carotenes in terms of retinol equivalent. It contains 15 to 300 times as many retinol equivalents as carrots, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables, which are considered to have significant quantities of vitamin A activity.  (Food and Nutrition Bulletin, June 1994; 15 (1993/1994), number 2, United Nations University archive.)

Natural palm mixed-carotene complex has similar carotenes composition as that of carrots (≈33% alpha-carotene, ≈66% beta-carotene). These carotenes are also naturally existed in both cis- and trans- isomers.

Beta-carotene can also be synthesized from chemicals, extracted through fungus fermentation, or extracted from algae. Unlike the carotenes from palm fruit and carrots, the synthetic, fermentative and algae beta-carotene existed as mainly beta carotene (>95%). Although algae source beta-carotene contains cis and trans isomers, synthetic and fermentative beta-carotene is 100% trans isomer beta-carotene.

Only palm based carotenoids contain high level of alpha-carotene.